What do you do in Belgium on a Monday?

Sep 13th, 2009, 09:33 AM
  #1  
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What do you do in Belgium on a Monday?

Yay, I finally have another trip planned and I need your advice fodorites! It won't be until May 2010 which is a long way away I know. I'll be going to England for a wedding and then Scotland for some family stuff and before all that, I'm planning on spending 6 nights on my own somewhere else.

Because I want to keep flights down to a minimum on this trip, I've rounded the "somewhere else" down to Paris or Belgium. I'm really leaning towards Belgium because I've never been there before and I really like the Flemish Primitives.

I'd be arriving in Brussels on a Friday afternoon and leaving early on the next Thursday morning. That give me 5 full days, one of which is a Monday. As far as I can tell, all of the museums in Belgium are closed on Mondays. I can't help but feel like that throws a bit of a spanner in the works.

I think I'll base in Brussels all six nights since I hate moving around and changing hotels. Antwerp is probably the city that attracts me most, but Brussels is more convenient since I'll be coming and going on the Eurostar.

These are the things of major interest to me, all of which are closed on Mondays. I'll also be doing the usual wandering around and going into the cathedrals, etc. I tend to spend a long time in museums.

Brussels
Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Ancient and Modern
Magritte Museum
Maison d'Erasme
Horta Museum if time

Antwerp
Museum Mayer van du Bergh
Museum Plantin-Moretus
Royal Museum of Fine Arts
maybe the MuHKA but i doubt I'll have time

Brugge
Groeingemuseum
Memling in Sint-Jans Hospitaalmuseum

Gent
St Bravo (open every day)
Museum of Dr. Guislain

Would something like this make sense?

Friday
arrive Brussels

Saturday
Brussels

Sunday
Antwerp

Monday
Gent in am- St Bravo's and walk around
Brussels in pm- Cathedral St Michel or something else?

Tuesday
Brugge

Wednesday
Gent in am- Museum of Dr Guislain
Brussels in pm

Thursday
early Eurostar to St Pancras

I don't like backtracking but I'm not sure how else to fit what I want to see in. Is there a better way to arrange things that I'm not seeing? Any other ideas or advice?

Wow, this was much longer than I meant it to be. I'll be kicking around pestering everyone about Scotland too
Apres_Londee is offline  
Sep 13th, 2009, 02:30 PM
  #2  
yk
 
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Hi Apres_Londee!

You'll love Belgium. Can I tempt you to consider at least one overnight in Bruges? It is such a lovely town, but 1000x lovelier in the morning/evening when the daytrippers are gone!

Do you like Art Nouveau at all? If yes, I highly, highly recommend putting Musee Horta as a definite instead of a maybe on your list. In addition, your Monday can be used for a self-guided walking tour of the Art Nouveau sights/buildings in Brussels.

Apart from the 2 Flemish Primitives museum in Bruges, I also enjoyed the Folklore Museum there. And of course, you need to climb the Belfry, eat some frites, visit the Basilica of Holy Blood, and see the Madonna & Child by Michelangelo @ Church our our Lady.

If you're bored, you can browse my several Belgium trip reports.

Brussels & Antwerp in May 2005:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...omment-3339398

Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, Leuven in Jan 2006:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...omment-3719451

Bruges, Ghent, Brussels in Sept 2008:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...omment-2585608

Unless you're renting an apt in Brussels, beware the hotel rates are fairly high there during the week, but much discounted on weekends.

You may benefit from the 10-ride "rail pass" offered by the Belgian Railway, depending on how many trips you end up making:
http://www.b-rail.be/nat/E/tarifs/passes/rail/index.php
yk is online now  
Sep 13th, 2009, 04:26 PM
  #3  
 
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Hi Apres,

I too am thinking of Belgium as part of a trip next May so maybe we'll run into each other.

My notes show that there's plenty to do in Brugge on Mondays:

Memling Museum (inside Sint-Janshospitaal)
Town Hall
Basilica of the Holy Blood
Church of Our Lady (Michelangelo sculpture)
Beguinage (highly recommend this)
Brangwyn Museum
Groenine Museum
Gruuthuse Museum
Sint-Janshuysmolen (St. John's Mill)

Please let me know if any of the above has changed and is now closed on Mondays.

You can also take a canal boat ride and the town is delightful just to wander around.
adrienne is offline  
Sep 13th, 2009, 04:44 PM
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Hi yk!

I was hoping you'd see my post- I've already been scouring your trip reports and as usual have gotten lots of useful information from them. I think I missed the one from 2005 though- thanks for the links!

I've definitely got the Art Nouveau walk noted down. Art Nouveau something I like and appreciate, although I wouldn't call it a primary interest of mine.

I've been struggling with what city to base from, and whether to do any overnights in a second location. I'm really going to consider staying a night in Bruges. You're right about the daytrippers - it makes me think of Florence and also Siena, which I loved and where wished I could have a spent a night.

In Brussels, I think I may have stumbled upon an incredible deal at a fairly nice hotel. Le Plaza is offering an internet rate that totals 537 euro for 6 nights, which requires booking way in advance and the major restriction of prepaying the full amount with no cancellation. I'm not ready to book yet but I'll need to make some concrete decisions soon if I want that rate.
Apres_Londee is offline  
Sep 13th, 2009, 04:49 PM
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Hi adrienne!

Sorry, I didn't see your post earlier- that's what I get for typing, going off and doing something else, and then coming back to finish my post!

I'm going to look into that now, for some reason I though the Memling museum was closed on Monday but I've been known to read things backwards before.

My dates will be Friday 15th to Thursday 20th. Maybe we can meet up if our dates overlap!
Apres_Londee is offline  
Sep 13th, 2009, 04:50 PM
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yk
 
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Hi Apres_Londee,

I looked up Le Plaza and see that it's on the N side of town. I'm not familiar with that area at all, since every time I've been to Brussels, I've always stayed very close to Grand Place. I found it very nice to be able to wander around the old town at night/after dinner, and then just a short stroll back to the hotel. I feel very safe around Grand Place area in Brussels, however, I understand other parts aren't as safe.
yk is online now  
Sep 13th, 2009, 04:50 PM
  #7  
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Make that Friday the 14th.

See what I mean about reading things backwards?
Apres_Londee is offline  
Sep 13th, 2009, 05:00 PM
  #8  
yk
 
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Here's the most useful website I've found regarding Bruges' Museums:
http://www.brugge.be/internet/en/mus...lichtingen.htm

Here's the PDF file on Museum opening days/hours. Pretty much everything is closed on Mondays.
http://www.brugge.be/internet/en/con...n_2009_web.pdf

There is a group that offers Art Nouveau tours in Brussels, which include visiting INTERIORs of some AN Buildings (which are normally closed to the public). I would LOVE to take these tours in future visits:
http://www.arau.org/ct_artno.php

Brussels tourism website also has info on Art Nouveau tours:
http://www.brusselsinternational.be/...two-wheels.act
yk is online now  
Sep 13th, 2009, 05:03 PM
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Hey yk,

I know the location is something that's come up in a couple of reviews on Trip Adviser. I don't really mind being a couple of blocks away from Grand Place. Fodors lists the hotel and says:

>>>Pros: good central location. Cons: it's not an unsafe or seedy area, but there are sex shops and lap-dancing clubs close by<<<

I can certainly live with that (there was a triple X video across the street from my building here where I live until last year, when it was yuppified into a cafe/coffee shop- we also had a crack house down the street until a couple of years ago, but that's a whole other story)

Majority of reviewers on Trip Adviser seem to say it's in a normal neighborhood, near a metro station, and 10 min. walk to Grand Place. I'm still keeping an open mind to other possibilities though.
Apres_Londee is offline  
Sep 13th, 2009, 05:06 PM
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yk, you are brilliant. Thanks for the links!
Apres_Londee is offline  
Sep 13th, 2009, 06:47 PM
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Sorry about the misinformation, Apres. I guess my notes about Monday openings are old. I would like to try to meet up with you. I'll let you know when my plans are more definite.
adrienne is offline  
Sep 13th, 2009, 07:14 PM
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We found some good hotel rates on Expedia for Brussels in August. Le Meridien and Royal Windsor for $100 and $107/night - both were prepaid reservations, but cancelable. Close the the train station and the Grand Place, perfectly fine neighborhood.
november_moon is online now  
Sep 13th, 2009, 07:23 PM
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I took the train from Paris for a day trip to Brussels. Unfortunately it was a Monday. Most things were closed.
I followed a group into a lace museum wandered aroumd, lunched at a sidewalk cafe and took the train back.
cigalechanta is offline  
Sep 14th, 2009, 09:25 AM
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Just looked up my trip notes - we were in Brussels on a Monday and that day we took the Hop-On-Hop-Off tour, went to the Atomium, and explored the park that the Atomum is in. We also did a little shoping near the Grand Place.
november_moon is online now  
Sep 14th, 2009, 09:49 AM
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What to do in Belgium on a Monday? take a day trip to Amsterdam where the museums are open
hetismij is offline  
Sep 16th, 2009, 07:06 PM
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Besides the Art Nouveau routes, I also enjoyed the walks with the comic strip walls. I can't find the website with the maps and photos right now-- I'll look it up later.

Here are a few I saw:
http://images32.fotki.com/v1060/phot...SCF9541-vi.jpg
http://images31.fotki.com/v1043/phot...SCF9544-vi.jpg
http://images32.fotki.com/v1044/phot...SCF9555-vi.jpg
http://images32.fotki.com/v1064/phot...SCF9669-vi.jpg
MademoiselleFifi is offline  
Sep 17th, 2009, 03:10 PM
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We did a self-guided walk to see the comic murals - that was lots of fun. And in addition to seeing the murals, we walked around a bunch of neighborhoods in the process.
november_moon is online now  

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